Niki Lauda 'worried' about F1's future under Liberty Media

Niki Lauda says he is worried about the future of Formula 1 under new owner Liberty Media, raising doubts about its plans to make the championship more exciting

Niki Lauda 'worried' about F1's future under Liberty Media

Amid the background of tensions between teams and Liberty over future engine rules and a drop in the commercial rights income teams will receive, Lauda does not believe that the direction F1 appears to be heading in is right.

"I'm worried," said Lauda in an interview with Italian newspaper Gazzetto dello Sport. "It was right that the American owners needed time to understand what F1 is - but that is about to expire.

"And what they think about the future is worrying me.

"The FIA, Chase Carey and Ross Brawn repeat that we need to level off the performance, but the DNA of F1 is the opposite.

"You are a fool if you think that to make grands prix more attractive you need to have a different winner every weekend. F1 is about competition.

"Developing cars is one of the important foundations, as well as the bravery of the drivers.

"Instead, you want to penalise the best teams, and protect the drivers as if they are babies - with the introduction of the halo for example."

Liberty announced its recent financial figures earlier this week, and prompting some concern from teams, as prize money income will be going down for the first time in recent history.

The pool of prize money available to be distributed to teams from the most recent quarter will be $273million (USD), which is 13% lower than last year when it came in at $316million.

This significant drop, with little likelihood of big money deals enabling it to bounce back in the future, is an issue for Lauda too.

Pushed on whether Liberty was right to push for cheaper engines, Lauda said: "Yes, and I'm sure we will find a satisfactory compromise.

"But the heart of the problem is something else. In the face of cost growth of some €70million from one year to the next, revenues have declined.

"But where do we want to go from here? There should be ideas for generating more money, but I do not see them.

"I heard from Sean Bratches, who would like to see the drivers accompanied with grid kids. Is imitating football having new ideas?"

Lauda believes F1 needs a wider masterplan, and a grander vision to act on more important aspects.

"It needs a more open project," he said. "For example, the budget cap. It is logical and correct but it needs a three-year plan to realise it.

"We have employees, so what do we do with them? Do we just cast them off and throw them on the road?

"For now Liberty has only announced that they want to introduce it, but they have not explained how they intend to realise it."

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